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Gerri Kimble, Business, Marketing, & Personal Finance Teacher in Hoover, AL Interview

Welcome to the fourth episode of The High School Business & Personal Finance Teachers Podcast hosted by Knowledge Matters. This fourth episode of the podcast features an interview with Gerri Kimble, high school business, marketing, and personal finance teacher at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama. See below for a transcript of the interview.

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The High School Business & Personal Finance Teachers Podcast hosted by Knowledge Matters is designed to interview teachers about how they got started teaching, tips and tricks for teaching business, marketing, and personal finance to high school students, and how teachers use Virtual Business simulations in their classrooms.

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If you’re a high school business, marketing, or personal finance teacher, we’d love to interview you for the podcast. Please send us an email at

Transcript of Episode 4 of the High School Business and Personal Finance Teachers Podcast

Host: Welcome to the fourth episode of the High School Business and Personal Finance Teachers podcast hosted by Knowledge Matters. This is the podcast where we interview high school teachers who teach business personal finance financial literacy and marketing. Stay tuned for our interview with Gerri Kimble, business teacher at Hoover High School in Hoover Alabama.

Stay tuned for the interview.

Virtual Business simulations are the leading cloud based educational simulations for teaching business personal finance and marketing at the high school level. There are currently eight different virtual business simulations available: retail, hotel, restaurant, management, personal finance, accounting, sports and entertainment marketing, and fashion. Virtual Business simulations are used in one-third of the high schools in the US. You can learn more about Virtual Business simulations at Welcome back to the Knowledge Matters podcast – the podcast where we talk to high school teachers about how they got started teaching and tips and tricks they have for teaching business and personal finance and marketing to high school students. I want to welcome our latest guest Gerri Kimble. Gerri teaches business and marketing at Hoover High School in Hoover Alabama. Gerri welcome to the podcast.

Gerri: Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Host: Sure. So what classes do you currently teach.

Gerri: Right now I’m teaching a course called career preparedness which is a state mandated course and it is designed for ninth graders and it goes into three areas – technology, career and academic planning, and personal finance. And believe it or not that’s all in one course and that course is required for every ninth grader in the state of Alabama. And I also teach one of our newest courses which is Internet marketing which goes into social and digital marketing. So it’s a pretty exciting school year for me.

Host: That sounds great. So how did you first get interested and get into teaching.

Gerri: Well I’ve always wanted to be a teacher but I graduated high school right when the dot com era was flourishing and at that time I’m like you know I’m not going to go into teaching, I’m going to study information systems and make a lot of money. So I went on to business school and I majored in information systems and I worked in industry for a little while, and I just I wasn’t very fulfilled so to speak. So I was young and had no obligation. So I decided I’m going to do what I want to do.

So I went back to school and got a degree in education and started my first job.

Host: That’s great. Have you always taught business marketing and personal finance.

Gerri: Yes I have. And I’ve been doing that for 11 years.

Host: What’s a typical school day for you?

Gerri: Well we are a very large high school. We have seven classes a day and there are forty eight minute classes, so we don’t have a whole lot of time. It’s not like a lot of schools do the block schedule where you are with students for an hour and a half. So we really have to use that 48 minute just really dive in and engage students. The good thing about the 48 minutes is you. There’s not a lot of time for them to kind of daze off. They know they’re only with you for 48 minutes. So they seem to be engaged a little bit more, I believe, than in a block schedule setting. I have upperclassmen at the beginning of the day, and I have my younger students in the later part of the day. In the classroom, we really jump right in. We use all of those 48 minutes because we really have to.

Host: Given your 11 years of teaching business and marketing and personal finance, do you have any tips or tricks that you would care to share for any other teachers who might be listening.

Gerri: Just passion. Having that passion and being excited about business every day, that is passed along to the student. I have young students and old students who came into me last week, or maybe it was earlier this week, when Snapchat went public. I had students from all of my classes coming in, like I wouldn’t know. But they were so excited coming into me saying “Ms. Kimble Snap went public. We’re going to watch it, and we’re going to figure out kind of how they’re doing and all of that. That’s something that I talk about a lot, but I like that the students in their own lives are watching the stock market and love personal finance and marketing and business just as much as I hope that are portrayed in class. It’s really about passion. Loving what you do, and building those relationships with students. They appreciate the subject matter and being in your class a whole lot more when you when you do those things with them.

Host: Are there any lessons that you’ve learned along the way on what to do if your students are kind of having a rough day and you need to get them engaged. How do you do that?

Gerri: You know there are some days. And we all have those days. We, as teachers, also have rough days. One thing that I that I’ve always done with students is have empathy. Let them know that I know there are days when you’re not going to feel your best and you’re not going to want to give it your all. Or you’re just in a bad mood. I get it. We all have those days.

If it’s a class feeling, like they all come in for whatever reason, it’s a day where I know as a teacher we’re not going to get a whole lot done. I tailor my lesson to that type of engagement, and we may not get a whole lot done that day. And that’s ok some days. That’s one thing I’ve learned with experience. Every day is not going to be 100 percent. As beautiful as that sounds. That’s not the real world. Students will not give you their all every day. You’ve got to be able to gauge that first of all and respond to that and react to that so that you know you can use that time efficiently get as much as you can out of students. And when you’re not able to get as much out of students you have to just call it a loss and start again the next day.

So I basically react and I react to the feelings.

I don’t push them to give me something that I know that I’m not going to get. That comes with experience. I remember as a new teacher I thought they’re going to give me 100 percent, and I just learned that that’s not true. That’s not realistic and you’ve got to be able to respond to that efficiently.

Host: Great. You mentioned the state mandated class that you teach but I assume that the other classes that you teach such as the Internet Marketing are electives. How do you market your own classes to students at your high school to get them interested in taking it.

Gerri: That’s a great question. We struggled with that for a while. And I would say struggle, but we didn’t have necessarily a brand for our department. And what happened is our school is a pretty progressive school. And at some point our district and our school became a one to one school. You know everyone got the technology, and business classes were now not just the business classes where you got to work on the computer. All of a sudden every class allowed you to use technology. We kind of lost our competitive edge in that way. So we had to respond to that. Several years ago we revamped our brand. We did everything from create a logo to get a solid business website established and great social media. That revolutionized the whole recruiting process for us. So now we have that strong web presence, that strong social media presence, and we’re using our students a whole lot more to gauge interest. When we have recruiting events such as when the middle schools come over to decide what classes they want to take, we don’t really do a lot of talking as teachers. We allow our students to do it because that’s who they want to hear from. We use our students, we use our web presence, and we use our social media presence, and we’ve done really well from that.

Host: I’m curious when your students come in the younger students do most of them have a sense of how business works. I know that you mentioned earlier you used the example of your students getting excited when Snapchat went public. When they first come into your class, what’s their level of knowledge.

Gerri: Very little. They don’t know a whole lot about business. Now a few of them have that entrepreneurial spirit.

But in general they really don’t have a clue. I think that’s great that we get to open the world of business to them. So no we don’t see a whole lot of business knowledge when they come in.

Host: Great. How do you use the Virtual Business simulations with your students?

Gerri: I actually I started using the sims 10 years ago. The way that worked was this state mandated course that I mentioned has been a different course every five years or so. About 10 years ago, when they introduced the course the personal finance part of it was new. So we looked at that, and I was in my early 20s myself and barely knew about personal finance. I was basically a kid. I was looking at how I can make this happen for students. Being a young person, I didn’t want to sit and talk about writing checks and interest rates and credit cards and all that. As a teacher, I did not know of a way to make that interesting for students.

When that happens, we go out and look for ways and resources that will help us make things a whole lot more fun for our students. That’s how I came across the Knowledge Matters. It was one of my colleagues who actually found it and we researched it and we were like oh this looks really really cool. So we purchased it like I said about 10 years ago. We use it every year.

The very first year, we bought it and we just got the personal finance version. But we liked the format so much that I purchased probably five more sims from Knowledge Matters to use to teach management and marketing as well.

As far as how I use it in my classroom, I’ll use the personal finance sim as an example.

As far as personal finance sim, I really use it to kick off my personal finance unit. I allow students to take a unit or take a lesson with a partner or with a small group, and I allow students to be the experts on that subject matter. And be the ones that introduce that subject matter to their peers. Obviously with my help. A lot of this they’ve never seen before. Them hearing this from someone their own age works wonders. It’s worked in my classroom for years.

I put the information in the students hands and let them run with it, and I’m there to kind of fill in the holes and clarify their understanding and things like that. I use it is as the basis of my personal finance unit in our freshman course. And then with my older classes, I try to use it the same way to introduce concepts. It’s the foundation for a lot of the concepts that I teach, and I build with projects on the lessons from Knowledge Matters.

Host: Do your students participate in any of the Virtual Business Challenges that we run each year.

Gerri: My first time doing that was last year. I’d seen it over the years and just didn’t quite understand what it was. And then last year our FBLA chapter had a couple of teams compete, and we thought that was pretty cool. And then this year we changed over to DECA. So we had a couple of those participating in the challenge with our DECA chapter. But we’re not too heavy on it yet. But we plan to do a whole lot more with it in the future because the students really like it.

Host: I know that you’re really active on Twitter. I know you take part in the #bizedu chat. How did you get involved in that.

Gerri: Oh that was several years ago. And like I said I teach in a very progressive school. All of my administrators are on Twitter. I wouldn’t say I was pushed into that space, but it’s kind of expected around here that you are active in social media – using social media for professional development. A few years ago I was out there looking for other business teachers on Twitter. I mean you can follow all kinds of people on Twitter, but I need it so my time isn’t wasted when I’m on social media.

I went out there and I was looking for business teachers, and all of a sudden I found this golden group of people who were sharing and communicating every day. So that’s kind of how I discovered the #busedu hash tag. Those people have basically become my friends over the years, and I’ve learned so much from that community since then. I highly recommend it by the way for any business teacher who isn’t on Twitter. Twitter has probably been my best PD that I’ve ever that I’ve ever done just continuous PD that I’ve ever done. It’s an amazing space. I think every business teacher should have some type of presence out there. There are a lot of teachers out there who are willing to share what they do and what works in their classroom. This is part of the reason I’m the teacher I am today.

Host: That’s all the questions that I had. I wondered if there is anything that we didn’t discuss or any final words of wisdom that you might offer for other high school business teachers who might be listening.

Gerri: I think the the biggest resource that we have as educators is each other. And I just encourage teachers to look at that area and use that social media space to get to know people outside your school, outside of your district. A lot of times we know a lot of teachers in our state, and that’s wonderful, but it really helps to hear from teachers from all over the nation and there are teachers in there who are not even from the US. So it’s really cool to learn from everyone and then also just joining professional organizations and getting to conferences and meeting these people in person. Like I said, I learn so much from teachers that I don’t see every day. So that would be my suggestion for business teachers who aren’t already doing that.

Host: We’ve been speaking with Gerri Kimble. Gerri teaches business marketing and personal finance at the Hoover High School in Hoover Alabama. And Gerri thanks for doing this interview. Thank

Gerri: Thank you Jeff.